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‘Street finder

Lagos, Nigeria: A group of Nigerian information technology and map experts in the United Kingdom who have worked on several Google Maps and software development projects, have developed an online interactive street finder for Lagos.

The website www.MapNTL.com allows users to search for any street in Lagos, in addition to the location of any business by name and address. According to the initiators, the innovation was aimed at bringing the benefits of digital technology to the door steps of Nigerians, adding that the website could be described as the Nigerian version of Google map website.

The initiator of the project, Mr. Ireti Ajala, who has over 14 years industry experience said, “MapNTL.com can show the precise location of over 50,000 businesses in Lagos including banks, ATMs, restaurants, hotels, post offices, shopping plazas, markets, etc.

Ajala, a United Kingdom-based map and GIS specialist, added that its database contained over 400,000 routable Lagos digital streets measuring over 5,400km in length equivalent to more than two-third of the earth’s equatorial radius or twice the distance from Port-Hacourt to Sokoto.

“Visitors can interactively zoom in/out, re-centre the map, e-mail the map to customers and friends, and click on a business symbol to get localised information about the particular business such as contact phone number, email, address, etc and other details to assist in the purchasing decision,” he said. Ajala said further that businesses with location elements like banks, hotels and restaurants in Europe were all benefiting from increased footfalls and patronage simply because their customers could see where they were located on Google map, MapQuest, Yahoo map and other similar maps.

“Sometime ago, an attempt was made to search for Ojuelegba Road on Google map and it returned an error saying this popular road could not be found. Why should Google map know the location of all of Barclays Bank, HSBC, MacDonald’s, Pizza Huts, KFC outlets in UK but cannot find the location of Zenith Bank, Bank PHB, Mr Biggs, Sweet Sensation, etc in Lagos,” he said.

He explained that the reason for this was that the search application did not have intelligent street map for every single city in the world, noting that this perhaps explained why local online street maps were springing up everyday in India, South Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia and China among others.

“But Nigeria with over 10million Internet users cannot boast of a decent online map. People still expect okadas to know every street in Lagos, “he lamented.